Piety Hill Musings

The ramblings of the Rector of St. John's Episcopal Church of Detroit. Piety Hill refers to the old name for our neighborhood. The neighborhood has changed a great deal in the over 160 years we have been on this corner (but not our traditional biblical theology) and it is now known for the neighboring theatres, the professional baseball and football stadiums and new hockey/basketball arena.

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Location: Detroit, Michigan, United States

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Exhortation from Founders Day

Interesting to hear the reaction to hearing the Exhortation read this past Sunday during the Holy Communion Service.  One of three versions are required in the 1789 Book of Common Prayer (which we used that day for Founders Day) but yes it is available for use in the 1928 Book of Common Prayer as well.  

Most comments I hear was along the lines of "what a great/clear statement of why we do Holy Communion".

So here it is....

DEARLY beloved in the Lord, ye who mind to come to the Holy Communion of the Body and Blood of our Saviour Christ, must consider how Saint Paul exhorteth all persons diligently to try and examine themselves, before they presume to eat of that Bread, and drink of that Cup. For as the benefit is great, if with a true penitent heart and lively faith we receive that holy Sacrament ; so is the danger great, if we receive the same unworthily. Judge therefore yourselves, brethren, that ye be not judged of the Lord ; repent ye truly for your sins past ; have a lively and steadfast faith in Christ our Saviour ; amend your lives, and be in perfect charity with all men ; so shall ye be meet partakers of those holy mysteries. And above all things ye must give most humble and hearty thanks to God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, for the redemption of the world by the death and passion of our Saviour Christ, both God and man ; who did humble himself, even to the death upon the Cross, for us, miserable sinners, who lay in darkness and the shadow of death ; that he might make us the children of God, and exalt us to everlasting life. And to the end that we should always remember the exceeding great love of our Master, and only Saviour, Jesus Christ, thus dying for us, and the innumerable benefits which by his precious blood-shedding he hath obtained for us ; he hath instituted and ordained holy mysteries, as pledges of his love, and for a continual remembrance of his death, to our great and endless comfort. To Him therefore, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, let give (as we are most bounden) continual thanks ; submitting ourselves wholly to his holy will and pleasure, and studying to serve him in true holiness and righteousness all the days of our life. Amen

Monday, July 29, 2013

The American Prayer Book - Rector's Rambling - July 28, 2013

With today’s celebration of Founders’ Day we take a week off from our study of the Pastoral Offices in the Book of Common Prayer to discuss the first American Prayer Book.
After the Revolutionary War, the Church of England in the colonies found herself separated from the governance and administration of the Mother Church.  Many clergy in the colonies fled to Canada or back to England during the war, to honor the pledge they made at their ordination to uphold the 39 Articles of Religion, which included recognizing the authority of the King of England.  Those who remained in these new United States found that they were without bishops, and with the English Book of Common Prayer of 1662 as the form of worship.
The parishes within each colony organized into conventions with the remaining clergy, and worked to organize a catholic, reformed Church on the English model without having the King be the sovereign over church affairs.
The churches in New England chose Samuel Seabury to become their bishop (which he did in Scotland), and Pennsylvania, New York and Maryland elected men who were eventually ordained bishops in England.  A General Convention of the colony (now State) dioceses met and hashed out a constitution mirroring the new U.S. Constitution with a bi-cameral legislation.
There was much haggling over details of the American Book, whether portions should be omitted, revised or added.  But in 1789 a new book was adopted, which stated in it’s preface, “This Church is far from intending to depart from the Church of England in any essential point of doctrine, discipline, or worship; or farther than local circumstances require.”
This prayer book would be replaced in 1892, 33 years after this parish opened for worship!   This would have been the same year that the current altar was installed in the Church.

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Offices of Instruction - Rector's Rambling for July 21, 2013

Becoming familiar with the Book of Common Prayer is a great aid to the life of the Anglican/Episcopal Christian.  Beginning on page 273 we have what is known as The Pastoral Offices.
Having discussed Baptism, the next office is the Office of Instruction.  Learning the faith is a vital part of being a member of the Church.  Since the assumption is that most Christians were baptized as babies/children, The Offices of Instruction (p. 283) point the person toward the next sacrament – Confirmation.  These offices are written to be a type of worship service in and of itself, with the rubrics (instructions) calling for an opening hymn and two other hymns as well.  The rubrics also instruct standing, sitting, and kneeling at various times.
Since at Baptism the godparents are instructed that they are to make sure the child learn the Lord’s Prayer, the Apostles Creed, and the Ten Commandments, the Offices of Instruction are based on these very things.
The first Office of Instruction discusses in a question and answer format these three promised items, with prayers interspersed throughout.
The second Office of Instruction deals with the items in the Catechism concerning the Church, including her foundation in Jesus Christ and His Apostles, and our responsibilities as members.  It also lays out an explanation of the sacraments of the Church and her Orders for Ministry.
One particular answer always sticks out to me, as it mirrors pretty closely what is known as the Precepts of the Church.  “My bounden duty is to follow Christ, to worship God every Sunday in his Church, and to work and pray and give for the spread of the kingdom.” (p. 291)
Of course, one does not have to just do these Offices as a public service.  It is good for every member to review them as a refresher, or perhaps to learn them for the first time!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Two BUSY, fruitful weeks - Rector's Ramblings - July 7, 2013

Last year, being at the St. Michael’s Conference and then Boy Scout Summer Camp two out of three weeks was hard.  But this year, St. Mike’s got moved ahead a week due to Conference Center scheduling needs, and Troop 86 alternates which week they go away in the summer based on the Port Huron-to-Mackinac race (which itself alternates with the Chicago-to-Mackinac Race).
So, as a perfect storm, I ended up doing the Youth Conference and Summer Camp back to back.  As you can imagine…I am tired.
But I am also refreshed.  St. Michael’s Conference always encourages me in the faith, participating in the Mass and Classes, and in fellowship.  And Boy Scout Summer Camp reminds me that there are good youth, learning strong values, and becoming fine citizens of our country.
I was a Boy Scout growing up.  I made it up to LIFE (one step below Eagle).  In hindsight I really wish that I had completed my Eagle, but I went way to boarding school, and life moved in another direction.  But now I get to participate in the excellence of the program through my son William, and the other young men of Troop 86 (it has been a long time since St. John’s hosted Troop 2 of the Detroit Council).
Each year I am reminded of the wonder of the Scout Law.  Each Scout proclaims that a Scout is Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, and Reverent.  Even after 30 years away from scouting I was able to rattle those off from memory without a hesitation.
I don’t know about you, but these are the type of people I like to spend time with.  Striving to be good and wholesome citizens is a positive that is belittled by society in so many ways.  And a disproportionately high number of astronauts, military leaders, and leaders in business and industry have been Eagle Scouts or Scouts in general.  Thank God for the Boy Scouts of America